Every day, at the office, I receive multiple obviously fraudulent emails, and our IT department regularly sends out notices to advise us of still other phishing attempts that are being sent to our attorneys. And the fraud attempts aren’t just limited to my email, either–it seems like at least once a week I get a phony text, or a phony Messenger message, or a phony friend invitation from an unknown person or former Facebook user who I know for a certainty has passed to the Great Beyond.
In short, my own personal experience teaches that there’s a heck of a lot of fraud out there. Fortunately, most of the fraud attempts are easily detectable if you are just paying attention to the basics of sound data security practices–don’t click on whatever random link you might receive, be suspicious of email from people you’ve never heard of, watch for misspellings and weird language choices, and so on–but still, there is a lot of it.
This regular confrontation with attempted criminal activity is weird, when you think about it. Many of us don’t have any contact with crooks in our daily, non-electronic lives. But now, thanks to the technology that often seems to dominate our existences, new virtual doorways exist that might allow the bad guys to enter and bilk us out of our hard-earned money, steal our personal data, or even take our identities. Every day, on our devices, it’s as if we are walking through dark alleys with unknown people lurking in the recesses and shadowed doorways. And we know they are there, because every day they are sending us those messages that affirmatively remind us of their nefarious existence and criminal intent.
Are there more criminals out there than there once were, or do electronic processes allow the crooks to reach out and touch more people than could occur in the pre-electronic era? My guess is that it is a bit of both, and that a lot of what we are receiving comes from anonymous fraudsters in countries so far away that we never would encounter them but for the internet. Whatever the answer might be, it’s up to us to stay on guard, be vigilant, exercise good judgment at all times, and clutch our data tight when we walk through Internet Alley. It adds a new element of stress to the modern world, where a fleecing may be only one click away.